Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Merch: what 2013 may bring for the UK

It's no secret that those of us in the UK have had a pretty raw deal in many respects when it comes to merchandise. Of course, we all expect the US to get the lion's share of the feast, but even some European countries — Germany chief among them — have enjoyed a variety of merch that we in Britain can only dream of. (Or order from, but that's not the point.) Audioplays of the episodes, pop-up books, you name it: Germany has had it and we haven't. And I'm not even complaining yet, let alone whining. Do you want to hear whining?

Oh. All right then.

Anyway, we have it from the pony's mouth that Hasbro will be expanding its range of licensed products in Europe over the next few months. The short MLP paragraph in the press release doesn't give away a great deal; after the usual bit of self-promotion, all we get is the following:
The brand is set to arrive on digital platforms, including apps and storybooks across Europe in 2013. The extensive MY LITTLE PONY merchandising program reaches across all major categories including apparel, toys and accessories with new ranges released this season.
The "apps" part of that may well be accounted for by Gameloft's somewhat controversial game which, it now appears, will probably take around ten years to complete if you don't want to shell out for premium stuff. The rest, though, is open to interpretation — which is to say, guessing. And that's something I can do! Here are some things I'd like to see in 2013:
  • Stationery. I find it astounding that we don't already have pony-themed notepads, stationery sets, ring binders and so on. Almost every other remotely successful cartoon series (Ben 10, for one) has them — but so far, I've only seen such things on the front of some issues of the monthly magazine. I'd buy a CMC-themed pencil case like a shot, and I doubt I'm alone in that!
  • Food and drink. Of course Hasbro will have to be careful with this, so as not to fall foul of laws restricting the advertising of snack foods to children. That probably means no Pinkie Pie cupcakes or That Pony muffins. But we already have Applejack pasta shapes, so how about building on the AJ sub-brand and selling some nice, healthy, apple-based snacks? Buy some apples!
  • Board games. Hasbro is the owner of a wide variety of games, and we've seen one of them (Battleship) in the show already, albeit in thinly-disguised form. Wouldn't it be good to have Twilight Scrabble, or Applejack Buckaroo, or even a pony-filled extravaganza edition of Guess Who? Look how many varieties of Monopoly now exist: wouldn't you buy a Ponyville one?
  • Licensed T-shirts. WeLoveFine is all very well, but they charge quite terrifying postage rates to the UK. RedBubble is much cheaper, but they are unofficial and some fans would prefer to support the show by buying official merch. A small range is already available from TruffleShuffle, and it would be nice to see that extended in the next few months.
We do, of course, come back to the single biggest problem with MLP:FiM in the UK, which is its lack of TV exposure. Although this isn't a particular problem to the YouTube-using older fanbase, the cartoon is still very much a niche interest in this country. Until and unless that changes, we may just have to roll with the punches and be grateful that we get any merch beyond the figures themselves.


  1. Whining Rarity is marshmallow Rarity. ;)

    Still, I do hope that the UK will get a decent supply of MLP goodies, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see where that is concerned. I would certainly be very interested to see a good range of new stuff appear though, apart from the blind bags and the usual figures. Nice enough, certainly, but there is so much potential for other items and people in the UK *would* buy them.

    Stationary would be interesting, certainly, even if it isn't anything beyond pencil tins, sharpeners etc. Those would still be pretty decent to own, and if there's enough imagination out there, I'm sure more unusual goodies could be created.

    Board games though - now that is an area I would especially like them to take advantage of. All the game ideas you suggested are good ones, though I'd really love to see the Monopoly one take shape. As I may have said elsewhere though, I used to love those RPG board games where you had plastic figures to move around a map (which you built to your own design) like Spacehulk.

    Something MLP based and obviously not violent (unlike Spacehulk...) would be the dream bit of merchandise for me. Set up a map, such as corridors and rooms in a castle, a path through a forest, or a town layout, and then use dice and/or cards to decide how many moves your characters get and what you can do, etc. Spacehulk had a huge range of possibilities, so I'm sure something like this could work for MLP. :)

    1. That sounds like a really good idea! I'd certainly find a game like that fun, and I'm sure a lot of other people would as well.